Last Harvest: From Cornfield to New Town

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Apr 17, 2007 - Social Science - 356 pages
2 Reviews
In Last Harvest, the award-winning author of Home and A Clearing in the Distance tells the compelling story of New Daleville, a brand-new residential subdivision in rural Pennsylvania. When Witold Rybczynski first heard about New Daleville, it was only a developer's idea, attached to ninety acres of cornfield an hour and a half west of Philadelphia. Over the course of five years, Rybczynski met everyone involved in the transformation of this land -- from the developers, to the community leaders whose approvals they needed, to the home builders and sewage experts and, ultimately, the first families who moved in.

Always eloquent and illuminating, Rybczynski looks at this "neotraditional" project, with its houses built close together to encourage a sense of intimacy and community, and explains the trends in American domestic architecture -- from where we place our kitchens and fences to why our bathrooms get larger every year.

As Publishers Weekly said, "Rybczynski provides historical and cultural perspective in a style reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell, debunking the myth of urban sprawl and explaining American homeowners' preference for single-family dwellings. But Rybczynski also excels at 'the close-up,' John McPhee's method of reporting, where every interview reads like an intimate conversation, and a simple walk down neighborhood sidewalks can reveal a wealth of history."

Last Harvest is a charming must-read for anyone interested in where we live today -- and why -- by one of our most acclaimed and original cultural writers.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBD1 - LibraryThing

Honestly, I never would have expected to have been particularly interested in a book about the process by which a housing development came to be. But in the hands of Witold Rybczynski, this is a ... Read full review

LAST HARVEST: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Urban historian and architect Rybczynski (The Perfect House, 2002, etc.) follows the development of empty farmland in Chester County, Penn., into a compact, walkable exurban community of private ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
3
The Developer
9
Seaside
17
Epiphanies
25
Last Harvest
31
Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Estate
41
Joes Deal
49
On the Bus
61
Builders
167
A Compromise
175
PART THREE
185
Tradeoffs
187
Mike and Mike
197
Ranchers Picture Windows and Morning Rooms
205
Pushing Dirt
215
The Market Rules
225

Meetings
71
Scatteration
81
More Meetings
91
PART TWO
99
Drop by Drop
101
On the Way to Exurbia
111
Design Matters
119
Locked In
129
House and Home
141
Generic Traditional
147
The Dream
157
Bumps in the Road
233
HardSell
241
Competition
251
The Spreadsheet Buyers
257
Moving Day
269
POSTSCRIPT
275
Acknowledgments
283
Notes
285
Index
297
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Witold Rybczynski has written about architecture and urbanism for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Home and the award-winning A Clearing in the Distance, as well as The Biography of a Building, The Mysteries of the Mall, and Now I Sit Me Down. The recipient of the National Building Museum’s 2007 Vincent Scully Prize, he lives with his wife in Philadelphia, where he is emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. 

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